A few weeks after Caleb died we had a dear priest friend come over. Well, actually I called him out of desperation. I was in a bad place and everything was so dark. I needed to see a person "in persona Christi" come and minister to me. I still remember his words as I sat on the couch crying.
He said, "so you want a big Catholic family? I'll take you to other big Catholic families I know and show you their live children. Then we'll go to the cemetery and see the graves of their dead children. Having a large family means accepting death in some form, that's just the way it is."
I was a little taken back. All Nathan and I had ever wanted was a big Catholic family-ya know lots of kids running around. I thought when we were engaged our biggest marital problem would be how to provide for all the children we wanted. Funny now 4 years in our marriage if you saw us on the street we would look exactly like the typical American family with our one child, nice house, money for vacation, and plenty of free time-not exactly the big Catholic family we envisioned. But that's a whole other post for a different day. What I want to talk about today is bringing things to the light.
I took my priest friend's words to heart. I started to see what he was talking about. Slowly friends and family members came from all over telling us about the child or children they had lost during pregnancy or as an infant. I was shocked. How had this never been brought up? I think it never gets brought up because people don't want to bring it up. And I get that-its an incredibly sad/scary topic and I dont think we should start bringing it up at wedding showers just to make sure the bride knows how terrible things could go once she starts her own family. But I do think we can bring it to the light in different ways. By remembering our deceased children and speaking their names. By including them in our family count. Im at a place now where I say "I have two children, one here and one in Heaven," when asked how many I have. And sometimes (alright most of the time) it makes people feel a little awkward, but thats alright. I don't go into the details, but I give them enough to acknowledge my son.
I feel that if more people started sharing their children who have passed away then maybe it wouldn't be such a taboo subject. I want Abigail to grow up and know that yes, she lost a brother, but so did this family and that family and on and on. Because the reality is just what my priest friend said- having big families comes with death. There are more of us out there then there appear. I know not everyone feels comfortable sharing and I don't want to push everyone, but I do want to encourage those who do want to share not to hide your story. Tell your story, speak your child's name, give witness to your pain. In doing so we can bring into the light the taboo subject of loss.